Can my landlord withhold my securty deposit for bogus reasons?

UPDATED: Aug 3, 2011

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Can my landlord withhold my securty deposit for bogus reasons?

I just moved out of a house I was renting. I was there 6 years. the last lease was 12 months. Today he returned $550 of my $3200 deposit and came up with a list of reasons for deducting balance including: 1. Late fees from the last 3 years including when he lost a check and $10 a day for every day late (yet never in 6 years did he ask for a late fee or tell me I was late except the lost check); 2. An administrative fee to figure the deductions (not in the lease); 3. Repair to 20 year old garage door he refuse to fix since I signed the last leas;. 4. The last water bill (I paid). Is any of this legal?

Asked on August 3, 2011 Illinois


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Read the last lease agreement carefully that you ha with your former landlord about the property you rented. Its terms and condtions control the obligations owed to you and you to him unless in violation of state law. If there is a provision concerning "security deposits" and its return, this provision would govern your dispute about the balance of your $3,200.00 not returned.

Most security deposits are for damage caused by the tenant during the tenancy (different from normal wear and tear) and unpaid monthly rent (if the lease specifically says that unpaid rent can be debited from the security deposit).

The withholding of the balance of your security for 1. late fees from years back, 2. unauthorized administrative fee, 3. repair of aged garage door and 4. paid water bill by the landlord is improper.

Write him or her a letter stating you expect the balance of your security deposit by a certain date. If this does not happen, you have the option to go consult with your local landlord-tenant clinic about the situation for advice how to proceed in getting your money back including a small claims court action.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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